Asperger Syndrome (cont.)

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What causes Asperger's syndrome?

If one accepts the conclusion that Asperger's syndrome is one of the autistic disorders, then the causes of Asperger's syndrome would be expected to be the same as the causes of autism. The precise causes of autistic disorders have not been identified, although an inherited (genetic) component is believed to be involved. Supporting this idea is the fact that Asperger's syndrome has been observed to run in families. In some cases, autistic disorders may be related to toxic exposures, teratogens, problems with pregnancy or birth, and prenatal infections. These environmental influences may act together to modify or potentially increase the severity of the underlying genetic defect.

Some authors have suggested a causal role for vaccine exposure (particularly measles vaccine and thimerosal, a mercury preservative used in some vaccines) in autism. However, the overwhelming majority of epidemiologic evidence shows no evidence for an association between immunizations and autism, and experts have discredited this theory.

How common is Asperger's syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome is five times more common in boys than in girls. In recent years, the number of autism spectrum disorders has increased dramatically in the U.S. The reason for the increase is not fully clear, but it likely due to both improvements and modifications in the diagnostic process that result in an increase in the number of children being identified, as well as some degree of true increase in the incidence of the disorders themselves. The most recent studies show that one out of every 110 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder.

Asperger's syndrome has been estimated to affect two and a half out of every 1000 children, based upon the total number of children with autistic disorders.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2013

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